The South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) runs 588 primary schools serving 3.2 lakh children. A majority of the children studying in these schools are first generation learners belonging to economically disadvantaged communities. Having successfully implemented a range of initiatives to improve access and enrolment in these schools, SDMC is now looking to improve the quality of education at a systemic level.
In June 2014, SDMC invited Central Square Foundation to support its effort to develop a vision for its education system. With strong leadership at SDMC eager to pursue systemic change, the vision required ambitious aspiration – “to build a best-in-class school education system with SDMC being best in Delhi and in India”. We were eager to collaborate with SDMC to improve the quality of education at a systemic level – a primary focus at CSF.
Our approach to designing the vision relied on contextualising successful global examples of education reform, namely Shanghai and Ontario. After analysing SDMC’s needs, we provided recommendations on actions and measurable goals to achieve short and longer term success.
We set four clear targets for SDMC based on the current education status:
- Well-resourced schools
- Focus on literacy and numeracy
- Increased English medium capacity
- Becoming a national champion for student learning.
To achieve these targets, we worked with SDMC to identify three key levers, each at a systemic and a school level: city-wide collaboration, system accountability and supporting school leaders. The interventions stemming from the vision framework were:
- Student Assessments – to understand current student learning levels
- School Rating – to provide schools and principals with a work plan that identifies needs and gaps
- School Leadership Development – to empower principals as key leaders of change by providing direction and leadership within schools
- Teacher Training for English Medium Instruction – to develop the ability of teachers to deliver quality instruction in English medium, in response to the increasing demand for English education among parents
The Chairman of the SDMC Education Committee, Mr. Ashish Sood, released the Education Vision in August 2014 with planning underway to operationalise the vision within SDMC.
An exposure visit played a critical part in strengthening the need for a system transformation project in SDMC and in helping gather learnings on what can work for schools in South Delhi. We traveled with Mr. Sood to Mumbai to visit a few schools and meet thought leaders functioning under the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai’s (MCGM) School Excellence Programme. Mr. Sood met with school principals trained by Kaivalya Education Foundation and interacted with teachers who were introducing new pedagogies in their classrooms. At an Akanksha school, Sood witnessed how partnerships with non-profit operators can bring about innovation within the school system. He also visited Valuable Technologies to better understand the implementation of virtual technology in the classroom. The visit also included focused discussions with Mr. Sunil Dhame, Deputy Municipal Commissioner, and Mr.Vinod Shelar, MCGM Education Committee Chair, on transforming the education system.
We are eager to continue our service as a knowledge partner in the next phases of the Education Vision rollout and to partner with SDMC in achieving its goal of becoming the best-in-class school education system.